Life is a journey, a journey to reckon with……
Located in Chitoor District of Andhra Pradesh State in South India, at the foot of Seshachalam Hills of the Eastern Ghats is the Sri Venkateswara Temple. The devotees reach the temple either by taking a walk from Tirupathi or through various modes of transport to Tirumala.
To make it memorable, I decided to walk the 10km stretch from Tirupathi to Tirumala.
Devotees take up this journey to show their gratitude to God for having their prayers answered. For me, It was just a walk,….or was it?
My Sis-in-law, a veteran of such trips, joined me in this adventure. With a sling bag containing cash and cell phone, we began with vigour. The weather was sombre adding to the grace of the journey. The atmosphere was serene and perfect for the steep ascend of 3800 steps. The steps were wet and slippery as it had been drizzling. Every step mattered….The focus was more on moving up one step at a time.
Lesson 1: Take one step at a time….remember in life too!
After the first 50 steps, which seemed like a warm up, I began panting. I did begin to wonder, a hint of hesitation. As a matter of instinct, I looked around to see my fellow beings. Everybody was in the same state.!! Heaving a sigh of relief to know that I was not alone sailing in the boat, I moved on accompanied by chants of “GOVINDA GOVINDA..” With the body gearing up, the mind simply went blank, no prayers, no petitions lined up. All I felt was to go along the flow. Then, it began pouring ..… Nature’s fury or should I say, God’s showering of his blessings? Umbrellas were not opened, the showers were let to soak us….pure bliss
Lesson 2: Everything is a state of mind, what you perceive and think is what helps you to move on.
In spite of the rain, there were a number of devotees from all walks of life, some in groups, some alone, you could see them all. As somebody walked past, there were very few words exchanged, just a knowing smile amidst all the panting and laborious breathing, but the glint in the eyes conveying the feeling, come on, we’re almost there. Nobody was complaining, just acceptance.
Lesson 3: Accept situations as they come. Face them
Along the path, there are steel railings for support and there are stretches where there is nothing to hold on to. But you learn to move on with extra care. The mind adjusts and adapts to situations and learns to handle all that comes .
Lesson 4: There are situations in life where you have to handle them alone. Maybe we slip down, maybe we slow down, sometimes we meet people who provide you that support, but in all, you have to move on
Every few steps, the body and the mind beg for a break. There were many who walk past with a quickened pace, even a few who were handicapped walk by slowly, some in a group catching up with untold stories, some relaxing, but the pace never mattered.
Lesson 5: The journey of life needs to be taken in its own pace, we need to remember to take a break, a break from all the regular routine, to rejuvenate.
Having completed the first half, I was relaxed. Knowing what awaits you, leaves you more prepared. A sudden rustle by the bushes caught my eye. I had seen many signs warning us on the animals that might be spotted; hyenas, leopards… My imagination went wild, what if it were Richard Parker from Life of Pi… but no, it was a wild boar, who was used to human intervention in its daily routine and never turned to even glance our side. Then came the gliding deer who watched us with an empathetic and encouraging look.
Lesson 6: Live and let live.
The final phase was a stretch of 750 steps and I was told that it would be the most difficult, as the steps were very steep. The stretch began after walking a few yards on the adjoining motorable road. The first step and the knees just gave away, the sling bag felt like a rock on my shoulders. Energy draining out, I reached out for a chocolate. In a jiffy, I was on track and noticed street lights. I felt that I was almost there. Ten minutes seemed like an hour, and still I just saw the lights at a distance. So near and yet so far.
Lesson 7: When we travel to a new place, isn’t it always the impatient feeling in the final phase which seems so very endless, making us restless.. but it is always the perseverance that we need to hold onto.
When I reached the final step, it was a mixed feeling, happy that I had the perseverance to be balanced throughout and to have got the life time opportunity. On the other hand, sad, that the lessons were over. Will I get more of them in my lifetime?
For now, this journey would remain the walk of life.